Six years ago I sat in a room in the centre of Belfast, with Sam, our director, and a few other young adults. I was part of a Tempo group and Sam asked us to dream about what we wanted to see happen in the area we were leading. At this stage I wasn’t directly leading anything and when I mentioned this to Sam, he encouraged me to just dream about something that I’m passionate about and would love to be involved in.
I started to write and think about my passions and interests and before long, I had a page filled with a plan of working with teenagers from tough backgrounds. In an ideal world, I would be able to support them 1-2-1 through a mentoring programme. A few coffee chats with Sam later and I was packing up to move to Dublin to work with Innovista as part of the RISE Programme.
Over the past 5 years, I saw my dream become a reality. I have loved working with over 400 teenagers across Dublin as part of our RISE Leadership and Mentoring programmes. Not only has my time with Innovista given me this opportunity to do something I always wanted to but they have trained me and given me valuable skills and experiences to become more confident and sure of where I want to go in the future. As a result of this support, I’ve decided to finish up at Innovista and pursue another dream of becoming a secondary school teacher.
At the end of August, I will be moving up to Coleraine to begin a year of qualifying as a Home Economics teacher before returning to Dublin to work with teenagers again in a new role.
I am sad to be leaving the incredible team at Innovista but am excited to see what is in store next for both them and myself. If you have a spare few hours in your week and you’d be interested in continuing on some of the work I was involved with in Dublin, please contact Anne at email@example.com as she is on the look out for some volunteers!
– Ashleigh Lea (formerly Harrison)